Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Hesperaloe spp. are tough plants that express a range of bold to soft. 

Albuquerque can grow those I know to flawless perfection, as can El Paso, Tucson, Las Vegas and other desert southwest locales. I am not sure about each species in more humid climates to the east, but I think most would grow fine; I believe all thrive in southern California.

Bell-Flower Hesperaloe / Hesperaloe campanulata -
Albuquerque NM, far NE Heights

Giant or Coahuilan Hesperaloe / Hesperaloe funifera -
Albuquerque NM, west mesa

Albuquerque NM, foothills

Albuquerque NM, Old Town / valley

That planting was part of my original design at Explora, and there, it is planted within Blue Grama grass and suitable companions Desert WillowEscarpment Live Oak, and Apache Plume. AZ friend Dan Goodspeed took that photo! Soft and sharp...

Red Yucca or Red Hesperaloe / Hesperaloe parviflora -
Tucson AZ, U of A campus

This evergreen sculpture plant is a favorite in the southwest and Texas, and now California, for very good reason. Red Yucca is easily used in different manners for the dryland garden.

Albuquerque NM, NE Heights
Litchfield Park AZ, under feathery Palo Brea trees

San Angelo TX, with Threadgrass
And thanks to 1.62" of rain last week, this new flower stalk appeared in this specimen, establishing in a terra cotta pot under the front shade ramada. A very cool surprise I returned home to!

Yellow Hesperaloe or Yucca / Hesperaloe parviflora 'Yellow' -
Albuquerque NM, foothills
This yellow selection always seems smaller in plant and flower stalk height than the typical red ones.

All the above appreciate part to full sun, 10"-25" annual moisture, take a variety of soils, and they need little care. Learn their mature sizes; for a lush planting, allow at least 1/3 more space than their mature spread and clearance from hardscape; even more space for less lush plantings. Susceptible to rot and the agave snout weevil, wet periods and overwatering can be tough on this plant, as can cold with some species, at least in places cooler than Abq.

I have used most Hesperaloe spp. in different settings and manners, so I will try to post that in my spare time.

Forgive me for not having any photos of Night-blooming Hesperaloe / H. nocturna, but it also grows well and thrives in central NM and the Great American Southwest!


  1. You stopped me at the sky in the first pic.

    All I see is FOCAL POINT.

    Never seen that color sky in Atlanta.

    Garden & Be Well, XO T

  2. Thanks for the great tutorial, David. Hesperaloe parviflora can be grown in the Denver area, as long as the area is somewhat protected and well drained (especially in winter). Love the photo of the new bud!

  3. The yellow blooms are perfect against the purple wall, they don't stand out otherwise.

    There are many more of these than I thought. This house came with a huge bed full of 20 year old red yucca and my plan was to replace them. That was before I started reading your blog and learned to appreciate them.

  4. This is one tough plant. The ones here are doing fine, with little to no water for weeks at a time.
    I love the blooms...but, so do the deer. The foliage is still good, though.
    I like that giant herperaloe. I'll have to look for one.
    There will be more desert plants around here, from now on.
    Glad you got some rain.

  5. TD - cool - yes, we really can get some cobalt or space-blue skies here! I wish I could find a higher res pic of that, as the red of the flower against the sky was hot!

    JC/AG - you bet. I left out my thoughts that H. parviflora was proven in USDA Z 5 in southern Nebraska years ago, but it is not used. The new bud all happened in 6 days, as it was not there last Monday!

    SF - glad I saved you the work - your back and husband might both thank you! That sounds like a nice flowering mass worth retaining and working with in your garden plans.

    L/P - those deer love everything this year, it seems! I think with your heat and dry periods, any of them are game there. Might be nice to use them differently than we often do in the desert!

  6. Nice coincidence! I just got an H. parviflora 'Perpa' ('Brakelights') on Sunday. Hopefully it can do without a Chihuahua desert level of heat--though the drainage should be adequate. Inspiring photos--thank you!

  7. David,I was recently in San Angelo for a wedding and purchased a H.funifera in a #7 container. It was labeled as a Yucca Giant Dagger. hmmm. Give me some growing tips, I understand it's a zone 7 plant?

    I think the garden with H.funifera and blue gramma grass is very well done.

  8. Here in Austin I see hesperaloe planted in "hell-strips" between sidewalks and roadways. They get so big they eventually block the sidewalks. The yellow is very nice (especially next to that purple wall!) and I might actually have room for that one. Thanks for the planting tips (I did not know they were susceptible to the evil weevil!) p.s. great to meet you last week!

  9. SF - I almost are very right that the Yellow Hesperaloe is not a standout without a dark background.

    HB - I've seen that one. I left out that I've seen pics of Hesperaloe, Dasylirion, and Yucca that are as nice in So Cal as they are here!

    I think you have plenty of heat. Growing degree days imply you have enough and even a little more than us, but your's is not concentrated in just summer, but spread over the whole year - Laguna Beach = 4,600, Tustin-Irvine Ranch = 5,175, Abq = 4,350! From:

    G - I've seen that name, though sometimes that name is applied to Y. treculeana, Y. faxoniana or Y. torreyi. For S KS, I recommend put on a berm with sharp drainage, allow 6' minimum space (8' better), full sun, and out of coldest winds and water drainage. Other than grama grasses, good companions are winecups, chocolate flower, blackfoot daisy. Needs no pruning except the spent flower stalk. No fertilizer there (or even here!).

    Thanks - I like mixing grasses and bold plants, and that image was taken in late Oct or Nov, so when the grama grasses more dormant, the green of H. funifera really pops.

  10. C - agreed - here on 10-12" rain/year, Red Yucca gets 4' wide (width of most hell strips)...and with drip irrigation, over 5' wide in time. The others are even larger.

    The only one not as susceptible to the evil weevil is the H. parviflora. Seems the broadleaf Yucca species are all affected, but not so much the narrowleaf ones...

    A small world!

  11. I've gotten lazy and just referred to mine as "hesperaloe"...I forget there are others! Must start saying "Hesperaloe parviflora!"...I do have a yellow one, purchased years ago from High Country Gardens, it's not grown at all, where as my red ones do (and even bloom!). Maybe I should move it to the gravel garden in front next year...thanks for the reminder (I forget about it...)

  12. L/DG - I could see that, though, since I don't know if the others are used much in the NW? Great idea - gravel garden, esp where it can show up against your dark paint or with a shadowy or darker background!

  13. Cool! We've got red yucca. Survives on its own but the deer have eaten every last one of the blooms for five years...and this was one of my hummingbird plantings...

    Loved your blue gamma grass contrast to the Hesperaloe spikes. Great idea. I have a swath that's down to dirt now with drought & deer. Thinking of seeding blue & black gamma to hold the dirt down and shelter the soil. Your picture is inspiration.

    You got rain, yea! I was in Petaluma CA last week but Denny called to say we had 2.2". Our property is up to 10" now for the last 11 months. Hope.

    Hope you do get/make the chance to go to Asheville next year. Gorgeous big-leaved trees. Green everywhere. Botanical gardens in Asheville and the NC state botanical garden is an easy drive from there. The Biltmore lands were one of Frederick Law Olmstead's last projects and embody his iconic principals. Plus he restored forest that became Pisgah National Forest. Not to mention Asheville's great food and amazing craft breweries. Art. Music.

  14. We did take out a divide a few, they get huge here, and also installed an Agave Ovatifolia at the head of the line for added interest. He thanks you that I'm leaving more plants as is than originally planned.

  15. The Yellow Hesperaloe as a container plant is really eye catching. I appreciate that it is less common than the ever present red yucca here in Austin.

    I stumbled across your comment on another blog and recognized your face from our MG training class. Thanks for making the trip down to Austin to train us; it was a great presentation.

  16. Like everyone else, I love that yellow hesperaloe in front of the purple wall. That's yours, right?

  17. KS - here, the deer seem to pillage other things (at least they aren't "packing heat", yet). But squirrels and rabbits climb into pots and eat flowers...even a roadrunner was seen by a neighbor doing that. Your choice of black and blue grama is good...even if not a full cover in dry years.

    SF - glad to prevent both of you from injuring your backs taking so much out! Can't wait to see the pics of your handywork...

    C - welcome to where it is always a desert! I wish I could have met you there - you all are a great group - made my time very worth it.

    P/D - yes, that's my front. The yellow is so delicate in texture and color, it begs for a blank background!

  18. I'm surprised no one mentioned the new MSWN selection 'Brake Lights'. On account of its dwarf size, long blooming habit, and really, really, really red flowers, I'm using an awful lot of it. Even Monrovia is growing it now. I just saw it in Monrovia pots at a local nursery last week.

    After you see the red in 'Brake Lights', the regular H. parviflora color looks like a sickly pale pink. don't get me wrong, I still love regular H. parviflora, but I'm just sayin'...).

    Glad you are writing about Hesperaloes. My office garden is purposefully overplanted with H. funifera, I find I can prune it back carefully to keep it off the sidewalks.

  19. A - I think someone mentioned that 'Brake Lights' selection of RY recently, but not remembering who? It is nice, though I'll need to comb some new landscapes here and the SW for some.

    I have a contractor friend here who is obsessed w/ H. funifera and has been since I turned him onto it in '96!

    You'll have to send me some pics of your office garden - must be nice!


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